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The Path Through The Wilderness

Victoria’s at work. It’s her second day on the job. I got up and straightened up the house, and am about to get back to writing. I’ve been transcribing some handwritten chapters of Blood & Chartreuse lately, so I want to finish one up so she can read it tonight. But mostly this morning I’ve been thinking of ways to improve our lot, and maybe get her out of that regular job in the process.

Obviously, our ideal solution would be to make a living playing music. That’s a bit of a hard sell these days, though. Most everybody steals music online. We discovered rather quickly that while there are plenty of places to perform in the Tampa Bay area, most of these venues expect you to do it for free, or close to it. So… what I’ve been pondering is ways to make money even if we’re not going to get traditional compensation from the venue. Obviously, that means we’ll need something to sell at the gigs. T-shirts, CDs, and the like. Victoria has a lot of interesting t-shirt designs in her Floozees Doozees store, not to mention the very cool candle rings and tote bags. Maybe we can find some Windhaven appropriate stuff to take with us. Who knows?

We have a gig coming up on August 13th at Café Bohemia in Saint Petersburg. They won’t pay anything, but they’ve basically opened the door for us to sing for our supper there. We can start as early as 11am, and can play until whenever. So… it’s up to us to go in there and play for tips. That bothered me at first, the idea that a café would expect someone to come in and play for free. But then I realized that it’s actually quite nice of them. This isn’t a rowdy bar where the beer money flows like streams into the owners’ pockets. This is a small, artsy café that serves coffee and sandwiches, and they’ve turned over a day to us so that we can come in and make something happen on our own. The freedom of that is something that I didn’t appreciate at first; I’m so used to venue owners telling performers when to start, how long to play, and how much their compensation will be. Café Bohemia has told us, “Sure, come hang out” and left the compensation aspect of it entirely up to us. If we’re entertaining, we’ll get tips. If we suck… well, no soup for you!

Clearly we have to come at Windhaven differently. That’s the curse of trying to do something original. No one knows what to do with it. We’re obviously not going to take an acoustic based act into the rowdier venues that expect a full band playing Classic Rock or Country. So we have to be more creative with where we go with this. Since Windhaven has recently been stripped down to me and Victoria, I think we’re going to be flexible enough to do that. Hell, we can go do the open mic at Dave’s Aqua Lounge and try to get a paying slot there. We can work up a Blues set to take to Ringside Café. Since there’s little overhead, and not much trouble setting up, we can wriggle Windhaven into any little nook and cranny where we think we can make a few bucks. And, most importantly, we can basically do some Windhaven songs while sitting at Victoria’s Floozees Doozees both at festivals and flea markets (where we can also sell CDs).

This is the very definition of thinking outside of the box. We have to do something different if we’re going to survive. I seem to be unemployable. I’m not getting callbacks from any of the jobs I’ve applied for. I have to assume there are too many people out there looking for the same jobs, and I’m an old fat guy with long hair who hasn’t had a traditional job (meaning W2’s and documentation) for three years. It doesn’t look like anyone is going to hire me. So I have to think of something else.

It’s also occurred to me that Victoria and I might be sitting on a goldmine without even realizing it. That’s our creativity. There are so many possibilities now; so many ways a creative person can get products to the general public. That’s what I’ve been thinking about all morning.

Café Press makes it possible to print your own t-shirts on-demand – so creative people who design great images can literally take their designs straight from the computer into production. Victoria often receives requests for custom work, which we just don’t have the means to do. We could design it, but having transfers made costs money. But if we could slap together that design and upload it to our Café Press store, that customer could get his t-shirt and we could get his money. Not to mention that any original designs we came up with could be stocked in the Café Press store, loaded into our eBay stores and web stores, and sent them directly from Café Press when people order them. Have I mentioned that I have an entire line of Fairy designs just waiting to be rendered?

ReverbNation also makes it possible to print on-demand t-shirts and sell them through our Facebook pages. This would be band related stuff, but it would still give us a means to generate merchandise which we could sell. And who knows? Once we get out there playing consistently with Windhaven, there might be a lot of people who want those souvenirs. Especially if we come up with original ideas of how to stage our shows in a more entertaining, less traditional way (meaning that we won’t just be some musicians noodling around in a corner, but will look for ways to engage our audiences).

ReverbNation also makes it possible to get our original music directly into the download channels such as iTunes, and Rhapsody, not to mention that they make it possible to sell on-demand CDs that are damned near retail quality. So, there’s an outlet for our original music, as well. And we could always take those CDs from ReverbNation and sell them on CD Baby.

There are so many possibilities here that it’s just mind-boggling. All it’ll take is a whole lot of work, but I really believe that if we hit this head-on, with both guns blazing, we can make this happen. I’ll keep applying for jobs as they become available, but in the meantime I need to work on these other ideas, too. Victoria and I are both too smart and creative to be tied to the mentality that the only way to survive is to put your dreams in a little box which you’ll keep in the back of your closet for the rest of your life. We can make this happen.

And to all those people who think this kind of talk is foolish, all I can say is that if you don’t have a job you can offer us, then shut the fuck up. We’ve been left little in the way of alternatives. In the end, we now realize that not only do we have the tools to make our own way, but God, the Universe, The Fates, of Whatever, has left us little choice. We’ll make this happen because we have to. To those who will shake their disapproving fingers at us, I’ll ask you to quietly move along to the dustbin of history where you belong. You’re the same people who discouraged Galileo and Da Vinci. You’re the ones who told Michelangelo that he was mad. You’re the ones who history has forgotten, because you never had the nerve to look up from your grindstone and imagine that life holds so much more promise that getting through each day. We are all put here for a reason. Maybe your reason was to be the best barista at a local coffee shop. There’s no shame in that. If that’s what makes you happy, then so be it. Live your life. But don’t dig your claws into me because I was born with mighty wings, desperately trying to hold me firmly to earth because you can’t imagine what it’s like to take to the skies and you think I’m foolish for trying. I am not you. We are not you. Be happy in your dark corners and comfortable bubbles. But don’t belittle us because we need more and are desperately crawling toward the light.

I realize that Victoria’s new job doesn’t solve all of our problems. It’s a breath of fresh air, when we’re still up to our necks in rubble. But it’s hope. We needed that more than anything. If a regular job falls into my lap, I will most definitely snatch it up and make good use of it. I’d be foolish not to. But in the meantime, I’m going to be working on these other ideas. For so long now I’ve felt like a rat in a maze, with Windhaven and these other projects seeming to be the only way out for us. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but I’ve never seen the road ahead of me so clearly. I’m sure I’ll have moments of doubt. I’ll let the small-minded minions tear me down at times. But I see the path through the wilderness, and I believe that my only other option is to lay down and die. That’s not something I’m ready to do just yet.

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Peggy Chaney
13 years ago

This is so well written and from the heart! Follow your dreams and let it lead you both where you’re supposed to be ! It’s hard for people who are happy, with no talent or dreams, to realize how it feels to be born with a tugging at your heart to step out and be what you were born to be or do! I didn’t always understand myself but I do now! If all my prayers for you two are answered, I know you will be able to make your dreams come true! With All my Love ,Mama

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